“… tragedy last night in Cooperstown, Alaska, when a quiet town became anything but. A night no one in Alaska is likely to ever forget.”
Wearing a raincoat and holding a microphone, a female reporter stands amidst scenes of almost biblical catastrophe. The reporter unfolds to the TV viewers the tragedy that struck the small Alaska town in the previous evening. As the woman speaks, images of the catastrophe are broadcasted on various different channels. The day after is rainy and gloomy. Ruined houses everywhere. Smashed-up cars. Firefighters and police officers all around. The townspeople, just standing in the rain, silently mourning. A woman sitting on her house’s bench, her face concealed in her hands.
The reporter informs the viewers that at approximately 10:20 P.M. last night, local residents were rocked by a series of explosions that some believed to be earthquakes. However, as they fled their homes, they realized it was much worse. They had come under fire by a private army, the likes of which most government militias rarely encounter. Their mysterious goal in Cooperstown? The cold-blooded execution of nearly ever child in town, an almost biblical punishment… with no discernible motive. Police are working hard to verify the identity of the attackers, as the bodies of several were found on the scene. However, it is unclear at this point who, in fact, killed them. Several locals have described a fight between two forces while others claim a group of super heroes arrived in the aftermath of the battle to help them get to safety. At this time, the truth about what happened to Cooperstown last night remains a mystery.
At the Xavier’s Mansion, Cyclops and White Queen have just watched this reportage, along with many different broadcasted scenes of the massacre via their monitors in the War Room. Cyclops wonders whether they really didn’t find the bodies of those two Marauders at the scene or if they are covering it up. Emma Frost suggests that it’s entirely possible Sinister sent someone back to clean up his mess. It’s not as if he wants the outside world on his tail any more than they do. Scott admits that’s true but, still, it doesn’t feel right. These are the Marauders, not the Marines. Like him, Emma also saw the bodies: they’d been abandoned. Emma believes they should just be content this disaster isn’t being laid at their feet at the moment and worry about “why” later.
Scott admits that’s a good point and asks her if she made that call. “Of course,” Emma replies. She informs him that neither of them was happy about it, but they’ll be there shortly. “Good,” Cyclops remarks. They need to move fast if they’re going to recover this child… so they don’t have time for turf wars.
Xavier enters the room and asks Scott why he didn’t inform him he’d sent out a team. Both Charles and Hank have been trying to get Cerebra back online, but that doesn’t mean… Cyclops interrupts him, rigidly asking him since when he needs his permission to lead the X-Men. In case the Professor has forgotten, the first new mutant to appear since M-Day is probably in the hands of one of their worst nightmares. Thus, Scott is not going to debate every plan or action with him. Especially in light of his track record lately. Saddened by Scott’s remarks, Xavier tells him that’s not fair.
Isn’t it? Cyclops retorts. Isn’t Xavier the man who left Scott’s brother in outer space last month? The man who lied about the Danger Room and Krakoa? The man who stood by while Scott’s father was killed?
Charles insists that’s not how it happened and Scott knows it. Plus, Charles is also the man who trained all of them, and knows more about new mutants than anyone on this planet. “Except maybe Sinister, right?” Scott coldly remarks. Charles desperately pleads Scott to let him help. Scott insists that Charles can help by letting him do what he trained him to do… to lead. And he can also help by getting Cerebra working again as quickly as he can.
Xavier insists he needs his help. Cyclops assures him he will be the first to say so when he does. He clarifies this isn’t pride. Xavier thinks he knows what it is. He doesn’t speak it out loud by chooses instead to telepathically tell Scott: it’s disappointment. Scott’s mental response is “Close enough.” Speaking out loud, he also tell Xavier that he and Hank, while working on Cerebra, can maybe figure out why this new mutant manifested at birth: that’s unusual. “Very well,” Xavier complies, seemingly resigning from his efforts to convince Cyclops otherwise. Scott again assures him he’s got this all under control. That’s why he already has a team in the field, hunting Sinister and his people.
Indeed, at that very moment, a team comprised of Wolverine, Colossus, Nightcrawler and former X-Man Angel is in pursuit of the Acolytes. Via a covert radio device in his ear, a rather annoyed, high-flying Angel communicates with Logan on the ground, asking him why Scott didn’t tell him these Marauders were also holding Rogue captive.
On the ground, in what appears to be a slum of mostly abandoned buildings, Wolverine replies “What am I, dear Abby?” Angel should talk to Summers about it. Logan’s guess is that Scott wanted Warren focused on the mission last night. Just like Wolverine wants him focused now. Finding these Acolytes is their best chance of getting a lead at the Marauders. He asks Warren if he’s got the location in sight. Warren’s response is affirmative. However, he also thinks he might have been spotted.
Indeed, one of the Acolytes, the bat-winged Gargouille, suddenly appears and momentarily strikes him before flying away. Angel screams it’s Gargouille: they’re here! “Go! Go! GO!” he urges the rest of the team on the ground.
Colossus smashes his way through a wall and discovers two more of the Acolytes: Neophyte and Vindaloo. Colossus asks them to stay right where they are. “Yeah… right,” the two Acolytes grin. Neophyte immediately phases to the ground whereas Vindaloo repels Colossus with his blasts, sending him flying over a building.
After his violent landing, Piotr tries to get himself together and informs the team that the Acolytes are on the move. He warns them to watch for Neophyte – he dropped into the floor!
“Which means he could be…” Logan mutters. Neophyte has already phased in the wall right above Logan and Kurt – the latter practically standing on the wall on account of his acrobatic skills. Having already detected Neophyte’s presence, Wolverine suddenly cries “Elf… NOW!” and Kurt instantly turns all the way around and makes a vise around Neophyte’s throat with his toes. Nightcrawler instantly teleports the young Acolyte and himself. They materialize high in the sky, where Nightcrawler keeps on teleporting the two of them incessantly, while still grabbing Neophyte, wickedly stating the obvious to him: there is nothing up here for him to phase into.
Moving around in the abandoned buildings, Wolverine asks Projector to come out: he can smell him from here. He assures him he just wants to talk. Remarking that Wolverine has a funny way of getting that across, Projector suddenly makes his entrance and generates an almost cylindrically-shaped force field with which he proceeds to punch Logan. “What can I say? These are complicated times, bub,” an undaunted Wolverine grins as he unsheathes his claws.
In the mansion, the two expected guests, Rictor and Multiple Man, have finally arrived. Sensing something in his head, Madrox asks Cyclops what the White Queen is doing. Emma explains that she’s checking to see if he’s the genuine article and not a duplicate. “Try asking, White Queen” an uneasy Madrox suggests - and maybe not with mental suggestions included this time.
Scott asks Emma what he’s talking about. The White Queen explains that he wanted them here immediately, so she made sure they had no objections. Madrox disagrees: actually, she temporarily erased any objections he had about dealing with the X-Men… which is not the same thing. Rictor asks Emma if she likes people pushing things around in her head. Emma turns to Cyclops, reminding him that she had told him they weren’t happy about it.
Scott apologizes to Jamie and Rictor for the way Emma got them here but as she told them, this is important. More important than the problems between their teams. Jamie curiously asks him what is going on. He hasn’t seen Cyclops this tense since Proteus tried to eat his girlfriend!
Layla Miller suddenly enters the room, making the cryptic comment that everything’s changed. Emma turns to Jamie, pointing to the fact that bringing Layla Miller with him wasn’t part of the request. Layla assures Emma she knows that… and that’s why she tagged along. Jamie’s going to need her for what comes next. Emma curiously asks, what’s that? What’s coming next? Layla admits it’s stuff she doesn’t know, actually. However, she knows she needs to be there. And she knows…
“That everything has changed,” Scott interrupts her. He admits it’s true: there’s a new mutant in the world. And they’re all going to help them save it.
A little bit later, after the members of X-Factor have watched the scenes of catastrophe on the news, a shocked Jamie wonders whether all this destruction and death was all over a new mutant appearing. Scott reveals that, worse than that, they think it was a mutant birth… not a teenage manifestation. The birth of a mutant powerful enough that its simple existence fried Cerebra off the grid. “And you think Sinister has this baby? That’s not good, Summers,” an increasingly anxious Jamie states. He adds this is the opposite of good. Cyclops explains it’s just a working theory right now. All they know for sure is that the Marauders and the Purifiers tore that town and each other apart – and now the baby is missing. His gut tells him that Sinister’s the safest bet for winner of that fight. Still, they need to cover all angles… that’s why he wanted Rictor here, too.
Rictor asks Scott what he wants him to do. Beating around the bush, Cyclops admits it’s something he is not going to want to do. Feeling uneasy, Julio jokes he likes the sound of this already. Layla, thanks to her ability to forecast the future, spoils Scott’s proposal before he even has the chance to utter it: she unceremoniously informs Rictor that Cyclops wants him to infiltrate the Marauders.
Annoyed, Cyclops assures her he can talk for himself. Layla apologizes. Still, she thinks he’s right. It makes sense: the Purifiers’ public persona means a frontal assault would be a nightmare. However, Rictor’s not a mutant anymore, so he could maybe sneak in.
Rictor asks if they really want to put him undercover with those sick, twisted mutant-haters – the people who probably killed every child in that town. “Yes,” Cyclops replies – is that going to be a problem? With notable irony, Rictor asks him what’s Jamies job, then – going to the Savage Land to have lunch with Sauron? Scott asks Layla if she wants to tell him. Layla declares that she and Jamie are going to see Forge. Turning to Jamie, she asks him who Forge is.
In the lab, Xavier mumbles that he just thought enough time had passed… that he’d proven… he doesn’t know… something. Examining an artifact, Beast remarks it gets stranger and stranger. Charles agrees. Beast clarifies that what he meant was this blaster the Purifiers were carrying. He thought it would be more future-tech salvaged from Nimrod, which is presumably how they knew about the child’s birth before Cerebra did. But this weapon he’s examining now… it’s not futuristic in design at all. In fact, it looks kind of familiar – which, as he said, is strange. He needs to look through his Purifier files again.
Charles is sure Scott will get to the bottom of it. Hank agrees he will. He assures Charles that he has trained Scott well and he must take pride on that and let him lead. He doesn’t know what else to tell him. Avoiding a relevant response, Charles just exits the lab, muttering that he’s going to go check the rerouting.
As he walks in the corridors, Charles passes outside the War Room, where Cyclops, White Queen, Rictor, Multiple Man and Layla Miller are having their little conference. Cyclops’ voice can be heard in the distance: “…and you can also have him scan for traces of…” With a disgruntled face, Charles enters the room that contains Cerebra.
Downtown, Wolverine ferociously tears apart Projector’s fields, remarking that these kids couldn’t take them when they were with Magneto and sure as hell can’t do it on their own. Up in the sky, a dizzy Neophyte exclaims “please, stop…” and Kurt complies with pleasure, teleporting away and leaving the young mutant to freefall. However, Angel cuts the terrified mutant’s fall short, grabbing him. Gargouille flies menacingly against Warren when Kurt suddenly teleports on top of her, taking her out with a few punches.
On the ground, Vindaloo continuously blasts Colossus – or “Russian freak” as he loathingly calls him – and assures him he can do this all night. Peter’s response is that this is going to be a long night.
Suddenly, Logan smashes his way through the roof above the two men’s heads, warning Pete to look out! As he lands to the ground, both he and Peter barely avoid being hit by Projector’s fields, as the young Acolyte also hops in from the torn roof. Projector’s force fields do get someone, though: Vindaloo, who is accidentally rendered unconscious by his teammate. Wolverine tells Projector that he hurt his own guy – pathetic. Menacingly placing his claws on Projector’s throat, Wolverine adds “and for what, to protect a guy like Exodus? A guy who ya didn’t wanna follow in the first place?” Terrified, tired and weak, Projector complies and asks Logan what he wants to know.
Having just come out of the bathroom, with a towel around his waist, Scott gazes out of his bedroom window, lost in his meditations. As Emma walks in, Cyclops informs her that Logan just reported in. It looks like they got a lead on tracking Exodus… and hopefully the Marauders he joined up with. “Good,” Emma’s laconic response is. Gently putting her hand on her lover’s back, she advises Scott to take some time to speak with the students, if he can. They’re complaining about sitting this out. A new mutant birth means a lot to them… It means they might not be the last generation. Caressing her hand, Scott assures her he’ll talk to them soon. He has to finish a field report for Forge, and then Hank needs to show him something.
With both of them now gazing at the full moon, Emma, putting her hand around his waist, admits she likes it when he’s like this… all in charge. It suits him. Cyclops confesses he doesn’t know about that. He still feels there’s a big something he’s missing here… some wild card they haven’t even considered.
Somewhere in Canada
In the forests, Predator X moves at a speed fuelled by hunger. The two dead mutants in Alaska last night gave him the energy to move on but they would be a morsel compared to the other one – the new one – that he feels out there somewhere… in the distance.